Tue 4 Sep 2007
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Many of us have hard drives full of pictures we’ve taken with our fancy digital cameras. Those cameras can take pictures fast, and it’s easy to amass considerable collections. But how do you find that one picture you took of that one thing way back when? A filename search won’t likely help you– they’re all of the format DSC-3343.JPG. Even Google Desktop can’t help because not even Google can read /understand images (at least not yet.)
If computers can’t directly read an image, people have to look at the image and annotate it. This annotation process of associating meta information to an image is called tagging*, or keywording. Currently the tagging input interface for many photo web sites (like Flickr) is a simple text box; select the picture and type in the keywords. There must be a better way.
Enter a new free online service Phototaggr (currently for Firefox only.) Phototaggr (in beta) adds a bit of intelligence to the keywording process: auto-completion, thesaurus, ‘auto-tagging’, custom dictionaries, simultaneous image tagging, 3rd party photo site integration (Flickr), and wizards for popular subjects.
So, to answer the original question (how do I find an image from within a collection), you’d need to upload your photos into Flickr albums, download the albums to Phototaggr, tag the images using the Phototaggr workbench and then sync the keywords back to Flickr. Then you can use the Flickr search to find your pictures! (You can also search with Phototaggr.) Not beautiful, but for a bridge technology*, it’s a step forward.
* Manual image tagging is an example of a “bridge technology,” which is a temporary technology which fills a need until a more robust technology (automatic keywording) is developed.